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Shop Class – Kinfolk

Kinfolk in Brooklyn is not your typical business. What began as a café there six years ago has now evolved into a multi-level enterprise that also encompasses a retail fashion boutique and a fully operating nightclub. It’s the one address where you can get morning coffee, buy clothes in the afternoon/evening and then head downstairs at night for cocktails and conversation. In addition to its cool 60-piece in-house line that retails from $40 for tees to up to $700 for a jacket, Kinfolk also stocks about 15 hard-to-find other brands and has a thriving webstore. Kinfolk’s co-founder, Jey Perie, recently spoke to me about the usual shop, its assortment and the “typical” Kinfolk guy.

What’s the history of Kinfolk?

The brand started in 2008 as a bar and lounge in Tokyo and we ran a custom bike program in Japan that became very popular and we won a Wallpaper design award in 2009. Then we did a collaboration with Nike and when my partner moved to New York we opened a café, then the retail store and then the nightclub. Kinfolk is a multi-disciplinary entity but the real focus is design and to create product and experience for guys and girls like us.

What was your goal when you opened the store?

The goal was to have every type of Kinfolk guy and different kind of friend that I have come here and find something that they like. I wanted to be as inclusive and eclectic as possible but stay within the Kinfolk aesthetic.

How would you describe that aesthetic?

For the in-house line it is a mix of classic American sportswear but with a twist of heritage from Japan or the Pacific Northwest. We try to add that little twist to make it more playful and contemporary. The store’s overall selection is multiple brands with different influence and a different point of view in menswear.

Who wears the Kinfolk brand?

He’s creative, well traveled and someone who wants to stand out but without being loud.

Do the same customers who shop at the store also visit the café and nightclub?

Yes, there is definitely a line of what we call the new internationalists. He’s the kind of guy that you will run into in Tokyo, Paris or London and he’s into the same type of music and aesthetic and design. We are proud to be part of that community that travels around places and experiences the good things in life wherever they go.

What are some of the bestsellers from the in-house line?

The jacket, a collaboration with Brown’s Beach, a Boston-based brand that was bought by the Japanese in the 1970s. It is a mix of wool and cotton and it is very popular. And the down vest that we made in Japan. It’s completely reversible and had a quilted side and a flat side. Also, the workwear-inspired coverall that we design here in the US and produce in Los Angeles.

Do other stores carry the line?

We only wholesale in Japan and Europe. Stores carry it in London, Tokyo and Osaka.

How do you choose what other brands to stock in the store?

My team and I do the buying. There is always evolution of taste in the market. Some brands I let my younger staff pick because they are more appealing to their aesthetic. I travel to Japan four times a year and I know the business quite well. We are always trying to surprise and bring in brands that we are they only one in New York to carry. We like exclusivity.

What’s next for Kinfolk?

We are looking to open another store in Brooklyn. And we will probably open a food and beverage place in Los Angeles later this year.

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